Study shows Sport for Development supports psychological well-being of adolescent refugees
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Unicef refugee study
UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight and the Barça Foundation teamed up to investigate how Sport for Development can be a positive intervention in the lives of refugee adolescents. 

The mixed-methods study was conducted in 2022 in two locations in Greece - Athens and the island of Lesvos - capturing the mental health profile of adolescent refugees (ages 11-19) and the key mechanisms of a Sport for Development programme that may influence their psychological well-being.

The survey data was collected from 90 adolescent Sport for Development participants (72 survey in Athens and 18 in Lesvos). For the record, 89 per cent of the respondents were from Afghanistan while the others come from Iran and Somalia.

The observations and qualitative investigation, had among others, found that refugee adolescents are relaxed and feel enjoyment while participating in Sport for Development sessions. 

Each study respondent was asked if they would make any changes to the programme, and 46 per cent of the interviewed adolescents and/or their caregivers requested either longer or additional sessions. 

From this sample, 27 per cent of the respondents were flagged for psychosocial issues. A smaller proportion were identified as having attention (13 per cent) and externalisation (16 per cent) issues. It was recorded that boys were more likely to be flagged for psychosocial issues than girls (29 per cent, versus 24 per cent).

The study noted that making friends was mentioned in interviews nearly as much as learning physical tactics around sports as the main reasons why adolescents enjoy the sessions. 

One of the reasons behind the adolescents’ enjoyment is that Sport for Development creates a physically and emotionally safe environment, which can be particularly important for young refugees.

The Sport for Development participants also frequently reported that learning about respect is reinforced throughout the sessions through speaking and listening with coaches and other players and asking and answering questions.

Several key recommendations were also made in the report. They include governments and stakeholders advocating and supporting Sport for Development programmes as a key tool for adolescent well-being and making longer-term investments to support what the targeted population needs. 

To read the report, click here.

Source and main image: Unicef


Not Applicable
All Sports
Sustainable Development Goals
3 - Good Health and Well-Being
Target Group
Not Applicable

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